Updated: July 22, 2022 | 8 minute read

    What are Special Designated Areas (SDAs)?  

    Malta has several Special Designated Areas (SDAs), which the Maltese government has designated to promote investment and economic activity. These areas offer several benefits to investors, including purchasing property without needing an Acquisition of Immovable Property (AIP) permit. This is similar to acquisition rights granted to Maltese citizens. Once purchased, property owners may also freely lease or rent the property.  

    This makes Malta an attractive destination for foreign investors looking to purchase property there. Many Special Designated Areas are located around Malta, each offering unique benefits and investment opportunities.

    Why Malta?

    The Maltese archipelago is in the heart of the Mediterranean and has been a popular tourist destination for two decades. The country’s favourable tax structure, reduced red tape, increased accessibility and regulatory development draw in EU nationals and expatriates worldwide. The booming real estate sector here mainly attracts high-net-worth individuals.    

    The Maltese market has earned a reputation for its stable return on investment, secure environment, and high quality of life. Foreigners looking to reside in the country can benefit from Malta’s legal system, including no tax on ownership or wealth. 

    Read more: What is it like living in Malta? 

    In this regard, there are Special Designated Areas (SDAs) in Malta, where no distinction applies between Maltese and non-Maltese citizens. 

    Special Designated Areas in Malta  

    Properties in SDAs intend to provide their residents with luxurious amenities, such as marinas, spas, swimming pools, shopping malls, supermarkets and restaurants. Explore the following Special Designated Areas in Malta:

    1. Fort Chambray, Għajnsielem, Gozo
    2. Portomaso Development, Spinola, St. Julian’s, Malta
    3. Cottonera Development
    4. Manoel Island/Tignè Point, Gżira and Sliema, Malta
    5. Tas-Sellum Residence (Mellieħa Project)
    6. Madliena Village Complex
    7. SmartCity
    8. Fort Cambridge Zone, Tignè
    9. Ta’ Monita Residence, Marsascala
    10. Pender Plance and Mercury House site
    11. Kempinski Residences, San Lawrenz, Gozo
    12. Metropolis Plaza, Gżira
    13. Portomaso Extension I, St. Julian’s
    14. Pender Place and Mercury House site, Extensions I, II, III, IV and V, St. Julian’s
    15. Visa Point, Marsalforn, Gozo
    16. Quad Business Towers, Mrieħel
    17. Southridge, Mellieħa
    18. Mistra Heights
    19. Quad Business Towers, Mrieħel, Extension I
    20. Verdala Terraces
    21. Pender Place and Mercury House Zone, Extension VI, St. Julian’s  

    Apart from the absence of distinction between EU and non-EU nationals and the freedom, investors can maximise other benefits when buying a property in Malta’s Special Designated Areas.

    Benefits of Buying a Property in Special Designated Areas in Malta

    Buying a property in Malta can be an excellent investment. Whether the properties are for residence or rental, investors can leverage all the following benefits: 

    1. No Permits Required for Buying Property in SDAs

    As mentioned above, purchasing a property in Special Designated Areas does not require an AIP permit. It’s possible irrespective of the buyer’s nationality.    

    Following the Maltese laws, properties outside the SDA require the buyer to get an AIP permit. Take note that properties acquired under an AIP permit cannot be sublet. Learn more about the process and costs of buying a property in Malta.    

    Understand the various requirements for the acquisition of immovable property in Malta, according to Chapter 246 of the Laws of Malta or the Immovable Property (Acquisition by Non-Residents) Act: 


    Maltese and EU Citizens –  both with five years continuous residence in Malta

    Maltese and EU Citizens – without five years continuous residence in Malta

    Non-Maltese and Non-EU citizens

    Primary Residence

    No restrictions – No need to apply

    No restrictions – No need to apply

    Prior authorisation is required*

    Secondary Residence or any other immovable property

    No restrictions – No need to apply

    Prior authorisation is required*

    Prior authorisation is required*

    Property in a Special Designated Area

    No prior authorisation

    No prior authorisation or predefined limit

    No prior authorisation or predefined limit

    Immovable Property required for the person’s business activities or supply of services by such person

    No prior authorisation or predefined limit

    No prior authorisation or predefined limit

    No permit granted unless required for an industrial or touristic project or as a  contributor to the development of the economy of Malta


    *Buyers must obtain an AIP permit    

    Please note that buyers will not be granted an AIP permit if they have already purchased an immovable property in Malta. Special Designated Areas, however, are exemptions.

    2. Opportunity of renting property in SDAs

    When a property is acquired through an AIP permit in Malta, there are certain restrictions on renting it out. However, buyers may freely lease or rent out if the property is in a Special Designated Area. It is an opportunity to enjoy rental income and capital growth. Renting out a property in Malta is taxed at 15%.  

    3. Access to residency and citizenship programmes 

    Malta offers several residency programmes like the Malta Permanent Residency Programme (MPRP) and the Malta Global Residence Program (MGRP). An investor must meet specific eligibility criteria, one of which is to acquire or lease a property in Malta of a particular value. Since the property value in the SDAs is high, investors can apply with their acquired property.    

    Download our guide and get a deeper look at the MPRP.   

    The same applies to Malta Citizenship by Naturalisation for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment applicants. Buying a property in an SDA in Malta also helps investors qualify for the programme, offering a Maltese passport and citizenship.

    Are you Ready to Explore the Special Designated Areas in Malta?  

    Malta welcomes investors from all over the world, especially in the Real Estate sector. The Special Designated Areas in the country can be the perfect locations for EU and non-EU nationals’ new homes or businesses. Buying a property anywhere in the area can be your next significant investment.    

    If you’re ready to explore and invest in Special Designated Areas in Malta, connect with our team now.